If it were up to me, I’d wrap 2017 in a whole pile of monkey shit and set that bitch afire. Twice. But part of me wants to hold tight to 2017, to never let that first part of it go. There was good in my 2017, but the shit… oh, the shit. When I look back on this year, I can see the wonderful in it: the successes, the people I’ve met, and those I’ve surrounded myself with. Of that, I am thankful, but the last half of this year especially was life-changing in a way you never want it to be. The way no one ever wants it to be.
There are some things you just never get over, and the loss of my mother darkens any good this year threw my way. This is the first time I’ve mentioned her passing publicly, and I’m not going to go into how amazing she was (she’s a hero, my hero), and how hard she fought (like a fucking Viking), or how fucked-up disease is (I never knew how much I could hate a thing), or how much I miss her (there’s an ache inside that will never go away). She deserves so much more than I could ever put into words.
Writing has always been a solace, but I’m only now starting to think of words again. Small and simple though they be, it’s a start. There’s a normalcy to it that my heart sometimes fights ‒ how can I be ‘normal’ again? But I can almost feel that slap upside my head. Like I said, a fucking Viking.
2017 was the year I had my mother. It was the year I did not.
So I wrote a thing, not long before the world ripped away what was light and good. It’s nothing special, but it’s from a life to which I can never return. A life where my mother’s heart beat in fierce defiance.
I wonder at its content; it resonates now in a way it didn’t when I wrote it. And while I want to see the end of this shittiest of shittest years, I also want to hold onto it and never let it go.
“In blood Skarja walks, the souls of all she’s killed the great shadow at her back!” Mira shouted above the storm’s fury as I grabbed my scythe. “My dreams do not lie!”
Too long I’d stayed; lines appearing on my wife’s face where they never would on mine. I’d run, draw Skarja away. Mira would be spared. This time, no children had I sired.
Howling winds rattled the shutters of our hut as Mira dragged me from the door. “She comes! Your name upon her lips!”
Fear for me darkened her eyes. That was why I’d loved again when I’d sworn nevermore. My kiss lingered, savouring lips I hoped would never curse my name.
“Flee,” I begged. “Wipe me from memory.” I charged into the storm. If I could get to the mountains, if—
Skarja loomed from the maelstrom, spitting my name like venom. “Evka.”
A thousand cuts glistened on her ebony skin, like lightning under the moon’s touch. I knew each one. Had delivered them with hate-fuelled rage ‒ desperate for what she had that I did not. The shadow behind Skarja writhed as she gathered it to her, faces of the damned morphing into great black wings ‒ shredded and shrieking.
“Not Mira.” I discarded my weapon; dropped to my knees. “Please, not my Mira.”
Skarja laughed; drew me close. Wings wrapped tight tore into my flesh. “You cannot kill a god,” she whispered ‒ words we’d traded since the dawn of the world.
I screamed Mira’s name as Skarja ripped out my heart, taking it as her own. Memories shattered as my twin fled into the night with the one heart we eternally shared.
In the doorway of a hut, a woman sobbed as I gathered my scythe. She, the first harvest for my great shadow.
Art: Malfunction by Skirrill